is, without a doubt, one of the most common childhood cancers. The disease has many types, among them includes
acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The tumor tends to occur in
children between the ages of 1 to 4 years, and affect mostly boys, although girls are also victim. However, to
better understand ALL, it is important for you to understand the pathology of leukemia. Normally, the bone
marrow produces blood stem cells to soon develop into mature blood cells.
maturity process, blood stem cells can develop into myeloid cells or lymphoid cells. When they form a myeloid
cell, it tends to develop into three types of mature blood cells which are known as red blood cells, cells that
carry oxygen as well as nutrients to every part of the body; white blood cells, cells that help in fighting off
diseases and infections; and platelets, blood cells that work by participating in formation of blood clots and
prevention of excessive bleeding.
When the blood stem cells develop into a lymphoid cell, nevertheless, they tend to further divide into any of the
three types of white blood cells called leukocytes: B lymphocytes, blood cells that produce antibodies to fight
against infections and other pathogenic agents; T Lymphocytes, blood cells that help B lymphocytes in the
production of antibodies; and Natural
known as NK
cells, K cells, and
killer cells), health blood cells which attack viruses
and cancer cells within the body
As for now, you may be asking so what do these blood cells have to do with leukemia?
need a PHD in oncology to understand. The answer is simple. When the stem cells develop into too many
lymphocytes during the maturity phase, it leads to leukemia. These cells do not fight infection as they should;
instead, they just keep dividing and reproducing anarchically. As their number increases, they invade other
normal blood cells like RBCs, platelets and healthy WBCs, making it difficult for the health cells to have
enough space to survive. This leads the patient to become anemic, suffers from recurrent infections and easy
bleeding. This medical condition is called acute lymphoblastic
The fact that leukemic cells can travel all around the body, the symptoms tend to differ. Depending on the number
of leukemic cells or organ more affected by the disease, patients with ALL tend to show different symptoms:
paleness, weakness, anemia, and others. In addition, these other symptoms may also occur:
Bleeding from gums and severe
Pain in the joints and bone
tiredness and fatigue
Loss of appetite
Shortness of breath
Petechiae (flat, tiny red spots under the skin
due to bleeding)
Formation of painless lumps in the neck,
armpits, stomach and groin.
The causes of leukemia are not well known. However, medical scientists believe that acute lymphoblastic leukemia
result from errors in the cell DNA, leading the leukemic cells to continue to grow and divide. Once the cancer
cells have longer life span than normal cells it becomes easy for them to attack and kill healthy cells which your
body needs to stay healthy and function properly.
factors and lifestyle that are suspected to increase the chance to develop leukemia include:
Down syndrome (trisomy 21
high levels of radiation
Immune system suppression
Children and adults treated for other cancers
with certain chemotherapy drugs
Exposure to chemotherapy and certain other
Siblings (brothers and sisters) of children with
Environmental risk factors (radiation, certain
Certain inherited diseases (ataxia
telangiectasia, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, and Bloom syndrome).
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia treatment tends to include induction therapy, a therapeutic procedure consisting of using rapid, specific,
short term-modulation of the immune system using a therapeutic agent to induce T-cell non-responsiveness.
The diseased child may receive chemotherapy medications for about 2 to 3 years in hope to completely
eradicate the tumor. In addition, the health care provider can also recommend target therapy, radiation therapy, as
well as stem cell transplant.
The treatment may cause side effects. But it has been observed that about 90% cases of the acute lymphoblastic
leukemia in children have been successfully treated. The children become free of the disease. Please, see leukemia
Treatment for more info.